Jul 12, 2014

More Third Goal Madness

The last time I claimed to be accomplishing the Peace Corps' Third Goal (helping Americans understand the people and cultures of other countries) I dressed myself and my step-siblings up in Gambian garb and walked around rural Maryland, where, surprisingly, no one batted an eyelash. This time, I've actually done something more noteworthy. 

I have officially been a keynote speaker. 

I put that line all by itself to make it look impressive. A few months ago, I was asked to speak at the Hunger Banquet being held by my aunt's EcoClub at the local high school. Always eager for an opportunity to wear a complet, I readily agreed. I brought out all my fabrics and souvenirs from their hiding places and put them on display. I put on the complet from my last Tobaski and covered my arms in Fula jewelry. I prepared a slideshow and somehow compressed two years into twenty  minutes. 

Afterwards, the questions kept coming. And coming. "Were you scared of tropical diseases?" "Do Gambians have pets?" "What's the strangest food you ate?" One student wanted to know how I brushed my teeth. He seemed disappointed when I replied I did so with a toothbrush. 

If you have been paying attention to the dates of these posts, you may have noticed that it has now been nearly two years since I have returned from The Gambia. That doesn't matter. I still think about it all the time. 

Jan 24, 2014

"If you can't travel to the motherland, Joloff Restaurant is the next best thing."

I meant to write this post a year ago. Yup. A year ago. Well, almost. I don't know why I never got around to it, but I'm planning a presentation about my Peace Corps experience, which got me curious about my blog. Turns out, more people are reading it than ever. Weird, right? 

Anyway, so a year ago my then-boyfriend-now-fiance and I took a trip to NYC and stopped by a Senegalese restaurant in Brooklyn. No one knew Pulaar, but I managed a "jere jeff" or two. 


Attaya? Yes. Yes it is. 

Batik tablecloths!

This is probably one of the two times I have ever gotten to wear that necklace in public.

Turns out my fiance likes domoda (but then again, who wouldn't?!) so we tried making it at home, with tasty results. 

Jan 28, 2013

The moment I'd been waiting for.

Every day I wear the following around my left wrist:
  • the orange and black beaded bracelet that Rugi picked up from the dirt and gave to me
  • the orange and black beaded bracelet that Tulai slid off her own wrist and onto mine because it matched
  • two of the blue beaded bracelets that came in a set of twelve I bought one morning at the Sunday market from the woman who also sells blue laundry detergent and handmade soap
  • the multi-colored beaded bracelet one of the vendors in the Banjul market gave me as a gift because anyone I bought anything from was giving me a gift
  • the "silver" bracelet I bought from the Bakau craft market the same day I touched a full-grown crocodile

And finally,  two weeks ago, my dedicated bracelet-wearing paid off. Someone recognized me as Having Lived in Africa and we struck up a conversation.

I am part of the crowd being squeezed from the Omniplex Theater at the Boston Museum of Science. A woman taps me on the shoulder. "Excuse me, did you get that bracelet in Africa?" I turn around, surprised. "Yes."

"My daughter noticed it," she says,  indicating one of the two girls standing next to her, "and thought it looked African because their father is from Mali."

"Yes, I got these in The Gambia. I was a Peace Corps volunteer there."

Turns out the mother had been a Peace Corps volunteer too, once. In Mali. So we talked about our work as volunteers and about the unrest in Mali (her husband is in Mali now) and then the crowd loosened up and the mother and her daughters went to look at the Mammoths and Mastadons exhibit, probably, but we'd already seen that so I danced down the musical stairs instead.

Dec 19, 2012

Quest: Find the Fulas

I originally wrote this post on my new blog, but then I figured, since people are still reading this one, I might as well include it here, too. 

My Pulaar language skills are fast deteriorating and I'm still no closer to locating the Fulas of Connecticut. I've joked about posting flyers around town--A faami ko mi windii? Mido yiddi ma!--but that may be the serious next step. I had high hopes for last Friday night: a West African dance performance at Wesleyan University. Sure, it would be performed by Wesleyan students, but someone had to teach them, right? And maybe that someone would speak Pulaar! In preparation, I even wore the guinea-fowl patterned shirt from last year's Tobaski outfit. Actually, paired with jeans and with a cardigan to cover the space age sleeves, it didn't look that ridiculous. Maybe.

I enjoyed the dancing, but I never got a chance to approach the teachers, real-life Ghanians. Which was okay, because their last names (according to the program) revealed them to be Probably Not Fulas. Oh well.

Nov 5, 2012

Wait, people are still reading this blog?

Okay, guess I'll write a post.

“The logic of the Peace Corps is that someday we are going to bring it home to America.”
President John F. Kennedy

I took that quote from the Peace Corps website, the part of the website discussing the Third Goal, "to help Americans understand the people and cultures of other countries."

This blog would be one example.

Walking around rural Maryland in traditional Gambian dress would be another. Sort of.